Membership of Freedom House and Council on Foreign Relations constitutes conflict of interests in links with radical Islamists
September 13, 2005
MIM: MIM Google postings relate the death of Imran Kathwari fighting Jihad in Afghanistan in 1992. Imran Kathwari left his medical studies at Harvard to train as a Muhajideen which begs the question as to how much his father and family influenced his decision and helped him contact the terrorists. Kathwari was a speaker at the Islamic Society of North America's most recent conference. ISNA is a radical Islamist organisation which controls and funds the majority of mosques and Islamic institutions in the US and propagates the Wahhabist brand of Islam. Kathwari who is a member of Freedom House could at the very least be accused of a "conflict of interests" regarding his participation in the ISNa conference and the recently issued Freedom House publication entitled "Saudi Hate Ideology Fills American Mosques". http://freedomhouse.org/religion/news/bn2005/bn-2005-01-28.htm
In 2004 Kathwari was among the speakers at an ISNA event whose particpant list read like a who's who of radical Islamist individuals and institutions in the US which are Wahhabist funded and directly linked to Hamas and Al Qaeda.
Click here for a webcast of the event where Kathwari gave a talk billed as "Advice for Muslim Board Members and Business Executives".
"...The proceedings of the four-day 41st annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a non-partisan body, concluded in Rosemont, Chicago. Around 40,000 attended the different sessions, in which panelists deliberated on various topics. The general theme for the conference was: 'Dialogue, Devotion and Development...'
The ten organizations are: AMA, CAIR, ICNA, ISNA, MENA, MAS, MPAC, MSA National, Islamic Hope and UMA.
The speakers included Muhammad Nur Abdullah, Dawud Warnsby, Farooq Kathwari, Zaid Shakir, Altaf Husain, Nada Unus, Shazia Siddiqi, Amir Al-Islam, Abdul Hakim Murad (T.J. Winters), Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, Mokhtar Maghraoui, Shugufta Yasmeen, Habibe Husain,Rami Nashishibi, Thomas Simons Jr., Ingrid Mattson, Hamza Yusuf, Suhaib Webb, Abdalla Idris Ali, Abdul Rashied Omar, Feisal M. Abdur Rauf, Ekram Beshir, Suhaib Webb, Kenya Numan, Ihsan Bagby, Suhail Ghannouchi, Hadia Mubarak, Salam Al-Maryati, Omar Ahmad and Agha Saeed.
Moderator were Azhar Azeez, Louay Safi, Ingrid Mattson, Syed Imtiaz Ahmad, Kamran Memon and Kareem Irfan.●.."
MIM: The biographical information on Kathwari is extensive and he has insinuated himself into the highest levels of government both in the United States and abroad despite his reputation as a 'Kashmiri secessionist leader', which by extension would tie him to the Taliban and Al Qaeda who are fighting both Pakistan and India. It is worth noting that the Council of Foreign Relations of which Kathwari is a member, published an article which shows Al Qaeda and Taliban ties to the Kashmiri separtist movement.
Farooq Kathwari is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ethan Allen Inc., the international home furnishings manufacturer and retailer. Originally from Kashmir, he was educated in Literature and Political Science at Kashmir University and received his M.B.A. in International Marketing from New York University. Farooq Kathwari is also Chairman of the Kashmir Study Group, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Trustee of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, Chairman of the American Furniture Manufacturers Association, and Director of National Retail Federation. He has received several recognitions, including the Gold Medal Award from the National Retail Federation and America's First Freedom Award. http://www.islamuswest.org/about_kathwari.html
Mr. Kathwari, who came to the United States in 1965, has served on the board of directors of RI for six years. He was born in Kashmir and has a refugee background. He became president of Ethan Allen in 1985 and helped to grow Ethan Allen into a highly successful international home furnishings company with 12 manufacturing facilities in the United States and more than 300 stores in North and South America, the Middle East and Asia. Mr. Kathwari is also leading a campaign to foster unity among people of all faiths. Through the Kashmir Study Group, he has played a leading role in promoting a peaceful dialogue between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. He has received numerous awards for his peace efforts including the International First Freedom Award by the Council for America's First Freedom, the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee and the American Muslim Achievement Award from the Islamic Center of Southern California.http://www.refugeesinternational.org/content/article/detail/4178/
MIM: The wealthy Kathwari family had ties to Kashmiri nationalist politicians such as Mohamed Gulam Bakshi and Sheik Abdullah. Kathwari's brother Rafiq, a journalist and photographer writes that he fled to the US in 1971 after being jailed for what he coyly referred to as " a youthful indiscretion". Rafiq also related his brother Farooq's close friendshp with Farooq Agha the son of Agha Syed the Home Secretary in Bakhi's regime, further proof of the Kathwari family's political connections. This is an excerpt from an article by Rafiq Kathwari entitled "Remembering Shahid".
"...Then there was the friendship between my brother Farooq Kathwari and his namesake Farooq Agha, Shahid's cousin, who lived a block away. Farooq Agha was not particularly a keen student, having repeatedly failed to obtain his B.A. His father, Agha Syed, who was the Home Secretary in Bakshi's regime, was very concerned about his son and asked Farooq Kathwari to do whatever was necessary to make Farooq Agha sit again for the B.A. examination held at that time every year in March.
The Agha Syed's moved with the Durbar for the winter to Jammu and so did Farooq Kathwari, locking up himself and Farooq Agha in a room. In March, Farooq Agha again took the B.A. examination. Weeks later, when the result was announced, Farooq Agha had graduated. I do not know the marks or the division he obtained. Even if I did, I would be discreet, unless of course it was a first division. The important thing is that Farooq and Farooq had done what was necessary.
As an aside, I often wonder about the ominous prevalence of the name Farooq in recent Kashmir politics. We have Mirwaiz Farooq, Farooq Abdullah, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, and Omar Farooq Abdullah and last but not the least, Farooq Kathwari, whose New York-based think tank, The Kashmir Study Group, is doing noteworthy work on Kashmir--and you might want to include Farooq Nazg who is here in the audience. I would like to second a proposal put forth some time back by Shahid's father, Agha Ashraf Ali: Let us change the proper noun Farooq to coin an action verb: Farooqed. Ladies and Gentlemen, Kashmir is being farooqed..."
For a brief history of Kashmir from a Muslim viewpoint see:
"...Kashmir has also been essential to the Indian national project from the start: to lose Kashmir to Pakistan would be to lose its mantle as a secular, multiethnic democracy. India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, an ardent secularist who vehemently opposed carving the subcontinent along religious lines, was born to a Brahmin family from Kashmir. His sentimentality about the place infuses Indian feelings about Kashmir today.
"Many Indians think something would be diminished in our lives if Kashmir were to go," said Kanti Bajpai, a international relations professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. "Implicit in the Indian argument is that whatever you might say, we're a good, functioning democracy. We can probably work this out. But our neighbor is not letting us work it out."
India accuses Pakistan of waging a proxy war in Kashmir by arming and training militants, first Kashmiris and then bands of radical Islamists from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pakistan says it provides only moral and diplomatic succor to the Kashmiri freedom struggle.
The ardor of these rivals has squeezed Kashmir dry. Armed men around every corner. A road built around Dal Lake, the jewel of Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital, lies in disrepair because of land mine explosions. Human rights groups have repeatedly raised an outcry about disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
The 12-year-old insurgency in Kashmir has left 35,000 dead, according to
Indian government estimates. Others believe that the number is twice as high. Last year was the deadliest to date..."
MIM: The Pakistani group Lashkar-e - Tayyba is one of the main groups behind the ongoing conflict in Kashmir and attracted many American born Jihadis, such as now jailed CAIR communications director Ismail Randall Royer, and Ali Al Tamimi.
WASHINGTON -- Al-Qaida leaders in hiding and foot-soldiers preparing for terrorist attacks are turning to outlawed Pakistani extremist groups for spiritual and military training, shelter and logistical support, say U.S. officials who see them as an emerging threat.
One group - Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, or Army of the Pure - is an example of how Osama bin Laden's followers take advantage of scattered Islamic militant allies to maintain momentum, four years after a U.S.-led military campaign destroyed al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan.
Lashkar is among the organizations fighting for the disputed region of Kashmir. U.S. officials say the group stands out for a number of reasons, including its missionary work and other involvement outside the area.
Elements of Pakistan's intelligence services have supported Lashkar in the past. Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, banned Lashkar in 2002 for its alleged links to an attack on India's parliament.
Lashkar leaders insist the group's focus is freeing Muslims in Indian-controlled Kashmir - not attacks on the West. Pakistani officials say the group is local, not international.
MIM: The complete text of this article is below and states that Kathwari used the ruse of of procuring timber for Ethan Allen furniture to set up political meetings with Kashmiri officials in 2000.
JAMMU, March 14
WITH the US President, Mr. Bill Clinton's visit to India and Pakistan just days away, the dots on the map charting the future of Jammu & Kashmir are starting to join together into a striking picture.
The Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, held a one-to-one closed-door meeting with Mr. Farooq Kathwari, a top secessionist political figure, in Jammu last week. He subsequently flew to Srinagar, where he stayed with his father-in-law, Mr. Ghulam Rasool Khan. The March 8 meeting with Mr. Kathwari suggests that the Union Government is engaged in a dialogue on plans that would, in effect, amount to a fresh partition of Jammu & Kashmir, this time on communal lines.
Mr. Kathwari heads the Kashmir Studies Group (KSG), an influential think-tank which has been advocating the creation of a quasi-independent State carved out of the Muslim-majority areas of Jammu & Kashmir. The owner of Ethan Allen, an upmarket furniture concern which includes the White House among its clients, Mr. Kathwari's associates in the KSG include the former Foreign Secretary, Mr. N.K. Singh, and Vice-Admiral S.K. Nair (retd.). Although the furniture tycoon had been blacklisted by successive Indian governments, he received a visa last year and visited several senior establishment figures.
A KSG report circulated among top Indian and Pakistani officials subsequently detailed proposals for the creation of a new "sovereign entity but one without an international personality." "The new entity," the report said, "would have its own secular, democratic constitution, as well as its own citizenship, flag and a legislature which would legislate on all matters other than defence and foreign affairs."
The most significant of five proposals Kashmir: A Way Forward envisages is a single Kashmiri State on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC). It argues for a series of tehsil-level referendums leading to all of the Kashmir Valley's districts, along with the district of Doda, opting to be part of the new entity. The KSG's new entity would also include the district of Kargil, three northern tehsils from Rajouri, and a single tehsil of Udhampur. The new State would, in effect, be an agglomeration of the Muslim-majority tehsils of Jammu & Kashmir.
No one in Jammu seemed to be aware of just what Dr. Abdullah discussed with Mr. Kathwari during their hour-long interaction. The Chief Secretary, Mr. Ashok Jaitley, told Business Line that the meeting had indeed been held, but said that he was unaware of just what had been discussed. "What I can tell you is that the initiative for the meeting was not ours," he said, "and that the highest quarters were consulted before it was held." Neither the Jammu & Kashmir Directorate of Public Relations, which handles media interaction with the Chief Minister, nor Dr. Abdullah's personal staff responded to queries.
While officials contacted in New Delhi argued that the Kathwari-Abdullah meeting had no significance, the facts appear to suggest otherwise. The KSG's specific suggestions for the powers of the new entity are remarkably similar to those proposed by Jammu & Kashmir's State Autonomy Commission (SAC). The SAC's report, now under consideration by the Union Government, would restore the State's 1953 constitutional status, giving it power over all subjects barring defence and external affairs. Significantly, no major Union Government figure has taken issue with the proposals.
The communal ripping apart of Jammu & Kashmir suggested in the KSG report has also found expression in the controversial recommendations of the Jammu & Kashmir Regional Autonomy Commission (RAC). The RAC proposes to create a series of communally-homogeneous provinces, mirroring the KSG report's cartographic content down to the last tehsil. More than a few observers believe that the dialogue now in progress could lead to an internal partition of Jammu & Kashmir, with the Muslim-majority provinces gaining quasi-independence, and the Hindu-majority regions being further integrated in India.
Interestingly, the Pakistani journalist, Mr. Talat Hussain, reported last year in The Nation that the back-channel negotiators during the Kargil war, Mr. Niaz Naik and Mr. R.K. Mishra, had discussed what was described as the "Chenab Plan" for Kashmir. The Chenab Plan which, according to Mr. Hussain's report, was documented in a Pakistani proposal, an Indian response, and a second Pakistani proposal, suggested recognition of the LoC as the border, followed by the grant of autonomy to Kashmir Valley. Several US establishment figures, too, have argued that India needs to make concessions in this direction.
The secrecy shrouding such dialogue has fuelled fears that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union Government is engaged in an exercise that could have serious repercussions. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA, Mr. M.Y. Tarigami, told Business Line that the senior BJP leader, Mr. K.R. Malkani, had, at a conference last month, told him that a division of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was, in the long term, inevitable.
See link for scanned page of original article with pictures from Businessweek
nusrat rizvi wrote: > Farouq Kathwari Pres. of Danbury based Ethan Allan Corp. also did > something > equally stupid in filling his son's head usual Islamic nonsense. As a > result he too took leave from Harvard Medical School to go fight in > Kashmir. He did not know any Urdu or anything else about the conflict > except that it was a fight between good and evil. Good meaning of > course Islam and Hindu were no doubt the evil. > On an excursion in Kashmir his group saw an Indian military truck and > decided to engage it by opening fire. The Indian soldiers returned > fire and a shell fragment from a grenade severed an artery causing him > to bleed to death. His comrades left his body on the scene for the > Indian soldiers to find, where upon they found documents revealing his > identity. American Embassy was informed which arranged his body to be > send back to Connecticut. > At his funeral services a Jewish boy who was a childhood friend got up > and shouted at his parents that "my friend lies in that box today > because YOU filled his head with hatred" No other words were spoken > afterwards.
Things haven't changed any. This fucked up kathwari continues to pump money for ongoing terrorist activities in Kashmir. The irony is that the stupid Indian eunuchs at the helm are fully aware of it.... Somebody needs to sue Ethan Allan for sponsoring global terrorism...
On Sat, 05 Aug 2000 11:46:28 GMT, Momin <M...@momin.com> wrote: >nusrat rizvi wrote:
>> Farouq Kathwari Pres. of Danbury based Ethan Allan Corp. also did >> something >> equally stupid in filling his son's head usual Islamic nonsense. As a >> result he too took leave from Harvard Medical School to go fight in >> Kashmir. He did not know any Urdu or anything else about the conflict >> except that it was a fight between good and evil. Good meaning of >> course Islam and Hindu were no doubt the evil. >> On an excursion in Kashmir his group saw an Indian military truck and >> decided to engage it by opening fire. The Indian soldiers returned >> fire and a shell fragment from a grenade severed an artery causing him >> to bleed to death. His comrades left his body on the scene for the >> Indian soldiers to find, where upon they found documents revealing his >> identity. American Embassy was informed which arranged his body to be >> send back to Connecticut. >> At his funeral services a Jewish boy who was a childhood friend got up >> and shouted at his parents that "my friend lies in that box today >> because YOU filled his head with hatred" No other words were spoken >> afterwards.
>Things haven't changed any. This fucked up kathwari continues to pump >money for ongoing terrorist activities in Kashmir. The irony is that the >stupid Indian eunuchs at the helm are fully aware of it.... >Somebody needs to sue Ethan Allan for sponsoring global terrorism...
I dont think he uses his corporate funds for his nefarious deeds, after all its an American Corporation with their boards of directors who will skin him alive if they found him doing something like that with their money.
MIM: This article was published on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations of which Farooq Kathwari is a member.
Are there terrorists in Kashmir? Yes. The disputed majority-Muslim region has its own local terrorist groups, but most of the recent terrorism there has been conducted by Islamist outsiders who seek to claim Kashmir for Pakistan. A recent spate of Islamist cross-border attacks into Indian-held territory and the December 2001 storming of the Indian parliament in New Delhi have reinforced Kashmir's standing as the key bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Both states have nuclear weapons, making Kashmir one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints.
Do Islamist terrorists in Kashmir have ties to al-Qaeda? Yes. Many terrorists active in Kashmir received training in the same madrasas, or Muslim seminaries, where Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters studied, and some received military training at camps in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Moreover, the Kashmiri terrorists' leadership has al-Qaeda connections. The leader of the Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen group, Farooq Kashmiri Khalil, signed al-Qaeda's 1998 declaration of holy war, which called on Muslims to attack all Americans and their allies. Maulana Masood Azhar, who founded the Jaish-e-Muhammad organization, traveled to Afghanistan several times to meet Osama bin Laden, and the group is suspected of receiving funding from al-Qaeda, U.S. and Indian officials say.
Has the nature of Kashmiri terrorism changed since September 11? Yes, experts say. Pakistan, which used to back Islamist militants in Kashmir, changed course after September 11. After the December 2001 attack on India's parliament, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf promised to crack down on terrorist groups active in Kashmir. In response, members of these extremist groups have gone underground, taken other names, and formed new, ad hoc configurations. Experts say some of these militants have branched out into attacks on Shiite and Christian minorities, American facilities, and other Western targets in Pakistan.
Who controls Kashmir? India now holds about two-thirds of the disputed territory, which it calls Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan controls about one-third, which it calls Azad (meaning "free") Kashmir. China also controls two small sections of northern Kashmir.
What makes Kashmir a flashpoint? It's been a constant source of tension since 1947, when the British partitioned their imperial holdings in South Asia into two new states, India and Pakistan. For Pakistan, incorporating the Muslim-majority province of Kashmir is a basic national aspiration bound up in its identity as a Muslim state. Meanwhile, India sees the province as key to its identity as a secular, multiethnic state. India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the region, in 1947, 1965, and 1971. At least 35,000 people have died in political violence in Kashmir since 1990.
Which Islamist terrorist groups have been active in Kashmir? The State Department lists three Islamist groups active in Kashmir as foreign terrorist organizations: Harakat ul-Mujahedeen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Jaish-e-Muhammad. The first group has been listed for years, and the other two were added after the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament. All three groups attracted Pakistani members as well as Afghan and Arab veterans who fought the 1980s Soviet occupation of nearby Afghanistan.
Harakat ul-Mujahedeen ("Islamic Freedom Fighters' Group") was established in the mid-1980s. Based first in Pakistan and then in Afghanistan, it had several thousand armed supporters in Pakistan and Kashmir. Harakat members have also participated in insurgent and terrorist operations in Burma, Tajikistan, and Bosnia.
Jaish-e-Muhammad ("Army of Muhammad") was established in 2000 by Maulana Masood Azhar, a Pakistani cleric. Jaish, which attracted Harakat members, had several hundred armed supporters in Kashmir and Pakistan.
Lashkar-e-Taiba ("Army of the Pure"), active since 1993, is the military wing of the well-funded Pakistani Islamist organization Markaz-ad-Dawa-wal-Irshad, which recruited volunteers to fight alongside the Taliban.
Since Pakistan outlawed these groups, attacks in Kashmir and Pakistan have been carried out under other guises. One group calling itself al-Qanoon or Lashkar-e-Omar is thought to be a coalition of members of Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other Pakistan-based Islamist groups, including the anti-Shiite Lashkar-e-Jhangvi organization.
What do these Islamist groups want? They want Kashmir to become part of a Pakistan. These groups subscribe to puritanical variants of Islam drawn from the Deobandi movement, which inspired the Taliban, and the Wahhabi strain of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.
What kinds of attacks have Islamist militants carried out in Kashmir? Attacks against Indian government buildings and officials, Indian soldiers, and non-Muslim civilians in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. An October 2001 suicide bombing of the Kashmir legislature building killed 38; Jaish-e-Muhammad claimed (and later denied) responsibility.
Does Kashmir have other terrorist groups? Yes. Local rebel groups that have employed terrorism include the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, which is secular and advocates an independent Kashmir, and some pro-independence Islamist groups. However, most terrorist acts in Kashmir in the past decade have been committed by Islamists, and local groups—many of which have curtailed terrorist tactics and have been trying to secure a ceasefire—have been marginalized by the Islamist presence.
Have Islamist militants launched attacks outside Kashmir? Yes. In December 1999, Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen and Jaish-e-Muhammad members hijacked a flight from Nepal to Afghanistan. For its part, Lashkar-e-Taiba claimed responsibility for a December 2000 attack on an army installation in New Delhi, India. In December 2001, six men armed with guns, grenades, and suicide bombs drove a car onto the grounds of the Indian parliament. Fourteen people, including the attackers, died. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but India holds Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba responsible.
In addition to acts carried out in the name of Kashmir, Islamist militants affiliated with these groups are also thought to be involved in attacks on American and Western targets in Pakistan. Jaish-e-Muhammad has been linked to the February 2002 kidnapping and murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi, and Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen members allegedly participated in a May 2002 car bombing, also in Karachi, that killed 14 French nationals.
Why did Pakistan support Islamist terrorists in Kashmir? To use them against India in the fight over Kashmir. Through its Interservices Intelligence agency (ISI), Pakistan provided funding, arms, training facilities, and aid in crossing borders to both Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. Experts say ISI aid, modeled on its support of the mujahedeen fighting the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, helped introduce radical Islam into the longstanding conflict over the fate of Kashmir.
Has Pakistan moved to stop Islamist terrorists in Kashmir? Yes. Under intense pressure following the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, Musharraf banned Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and banned five other Pakistan-based radical groups, sealing their offices and rounding up about 1,500 Islamist militants, many of whom were later released. Musharraf has also promised to force madrasas in Pakistan to moderate their extremist teachings. In June 2002, after a terrorist attack that killed more than 30 Indians raised the prospect of war between the two nuclear-armed countries, Musharraf said Pakistan would work to end cross-border infiltrations into Indian-controlled Kashmir. However, India says Musharraf has not honored his pledge to end such raids, and urges the United States to view Pakistan as a rogue state that sponsors terrorism.
Why hasn't Pakistan done more to stop Islamist terrorists in Kashmir? Experts say Musharraf has had to balance international demands to stop terrorists in Kashmir with internal pressures that threaten the stability of his regime, as well as his life. Some Pakistan-watchers note that Musharraf is an unlikely figure to crack down on the Kashmiri militants; he came to power in a 1999 coup triggered largely by the decision of Pakistan's then-president, Nawaz Sharif, to yield to U.S. pressure after a major Kashmir crisis and rein in the militants. After ousting Sharif, Musharraf's Pakistan continued to support these groups up through September 11 and the attack on the Indian parliament. Some key Pakistani constituencies, including Islamists and elements of the ISI, remain supportive of Islamist fighters in Kashmir and are livid with Musharraf for moving against them. Moreover, many Pakistanis see a distinction between the international terrorism of the al-Qaeda network and militancy in Kashmir, which they consider a domestic issue and a legitimate fight for freedom.
A dangerous game
The process of seeking a direct settlement with terrorist groups has marginalised the prospect of a meaningful debate on autonomy, which could have propelled a real dialogue on the democratic aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir's diverse communitie s.
PRAVEEN SWAMI in Srinagar
TWO years ago, Abdul Majid Dar's friends have it, the Hizbul Mujahideen commander received divine directions to a initiate dialogue with the Indian government. The crush of pilgrims in Mecca had led the Saudi Arabian police to suspend movement in the hol y city. Stuck right in front of the Kaaba, the structure at the heart of the Haj pilgrimage, Dar had a vision of the devastation he had inflicted in Jammu and Kashmir. At that moment, Dar's associates claim, he decided to meet interlocutors who might bri ng about negotiations to end the carnage. After putting his plans to his wife, a doctor in the United Arab Emirates, the Hizb's operations chief began to plan the peace process that finally began in July this year. Dar himself is not available for commen t, so there is no way of finding out just how seriously he himself takes this god-did-it narrative. What is clear, however, is that the work of an invisible hand is indeed evident in the events Dar set in play. But there is nothing supernatural here: the hand is that of the United States of America.
FAYAZ KABLI/REUTERS At the site of the landmine explosion at Matipora near Srinagar on September 2. Former State Minister Maulvi Iftekhar Husain Ansari was injured in the explosion, which signalled the return of terror in the Valley after a brief lull.
Dar's chosen mediator, Fazl-ul-Haq-Qureishi, has given the first real idea of what the Hizb's vision of a negotiated settlement to the crisis in Jammu and Kashmir might constitute. In a September 1 interview to an Internet news portal, the People's Polit ical Front leader said he had submitted to the Union Government formal plans for a quasi-independent Jammu and Kashmir. "The model," Qureishi said, "envisages a semi-sovereign status for Jammu and Kashmir, and joint control exercised by both India and Pa kistan". It is not clear whether Qureishi was speaking for the Hizb or his own organisation, which appears to be developing independent political ambitions. But the fact that the statement came from Qureishi suggested to most people that it had the suppo rt of at least a section within the Hizb leadership.
Masood Tantrey, the Hizb's valley commander and its official spokesperson, formally disassociated himself from Qureishi's pronouncements three days later. "We have made enough concessions by agreeing to (a) tripartite solution," Tantrey's statement read, "and there is no scope for further compromise. Now all of us should accept only that settlement which is agreed through the tripartite solution." It was lost on none, though, that Qureishi's announcements closely mirrored proposals made by other Kashmir -based figures on the Islamic right. On May 9, just a month before Dar came out with his ceasefire declaration, the then chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, announced that his organisatio n was "not for the division of the state, and if in the talks the parties reach a consensus to divide the State, we will accept that".
Geelani's proposals, as in the case of those made by Qureishi, have their origins in proposals put out by the Kashmir Study Group (KSG), a United States-based organisation. Farooq Kathwari, who owns the upmarket Ethan Allen, set up the KSG after his son was killed in an accident during training in Afghanistan as a recruit for the Islamic Right's jehad in Jammu and Kashmir. With the backing of prominent Indian establishment figures, the KSG put out proposals in September 1999 for the creation of a new Kashmiri state which would be a "sovereign entity but one without an international pers onality" (Frontline, October 22, 1999). The new state, the KSG report said, "would have its own secular, democratic constitution, as well as its own citizenship, flag and a legislature which would legislate on all matters other than defence and fo reign affairs. India and Pakistan would be responsible for the defence of the Kashmiri entity, which would itself maintain police and gendarme forces for internal law and order purposes".
Almost unnoticed, Kathwari's proposals for a new state created by sundering Jammu and Kashmir along communal lines, gathered momentum. The furniture tycoon met high-level officials in New Delhi and Srinagar this March, including Chief Minister Farooq Abd ullah. In the build-up to the Kargil war, Pakistan's then Foreign Minister Niaz Naik mirrored the suggestions in the KSG Report, calling for a series of tehsil-level referendums to settle the State's future. Reports in the Pakistan press suggest that Nai k and the Indian government's back-channel negotiator during the Kargil war, R.K. Mishra, also held discussions on the plan. Finally, the Jammu and Kashmir government's Regional Autonomy Commission (RAC) called for the sundering of the State along commun al lines. Sources close to the official charged with the implementation of the RAC Report, Riyaz Punjabi, say that he has watered down some of its more explicitly communal proposals, but its final contours remain to be seen.
QUREISHI'S conversion to the Kathwari plan is not the only sign of the U.S. role in the ongoing processes in Jammu and Kashmir. On September 4, just as Tantrey was busy attacking Qureishi's proposals, in Islamabad Hizbul Mujahideen chief Mohammad Yusuf S hah was offering journalists riveting insights into the U.S. role in the dialogue process. Shah, who prefers to use the nom de guerre of Syed Salahuddin, said he had given to a U.S.-based businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, a detailed account of the Hizb's reason s for terminating its ceasefire. Ijaz, Shah suggested, had been acting as a personal representative for U.S. President Bill Clinton. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained nuclear physicist, he is chairman of the New York-based Crescent Equity I nvestment Bank and a member of the influential Council for Foreign Relations.
It is now well known that Ijaz was in India around the time Dar was in Jammu and Kashmir. Ijaz was flown in through Kathmandu on a special Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) aircraft (Frontline, June 9, 2000). The U.S. businessman, who is personally close to Clinton and a major campaign finance donor to the Democratic Party, arrived in Srinagar in the second week of May. Escorted by RAW minders, he was whisked through passport control at Srinagar's Humhama Airport without the mandatory entries bein g made, and driven to a State guest house under escort. Later, he was briefed by 15 Corps Commander Lieutenant-General Kishan Pal and Director-General of Police Gurbachan Jagat, a privilege rarely granted to foreign nationals other than high-level diplom ats. Finally, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah hosted a dinner for the visitor at his residence on Srinagar's Gupkar Road on May 10, attended by a small group of State Cabinet Ministers.
Abdullah himself has gone on record to say that he did indeed meet both Kathwari and Ijaz, but little is known about the specific role of the U.S. in preparing the ground for the ongoing peace process. One important event, however, appears to have been t he visit of U.S. Senator David Bonier to Srinagar in April. In Srinagar, Bonier is believed to have flatly told Geelani and top APHC leaders including its current chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat to drop their opposition to any negotiations not involving Pakist an. Geelani subsequently flew to New Delhi for discussions with Pakistan High Commissioner Ashraf Qazi Jehangir. Similar plain talking was possibly done in New Delhi, for on May 7, Union Home Minister L.K. Advani had for the first time spoke of the prosp ect of talks with terrorist groups, saying he was working "to create a climate in which if any section of the Kashmiri people wishes to discuss issues with the Government of India, discussions can take place".
Key players in the dialogue process are far from unanimous on its future, or even its contours. Deep fissures are evident even within the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Hizb's parent organisation. Following bitter criticism by Geelani of the Jamaat's Amir (chief), Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, the organisation's Majlis-e-Shoura (supreme council) met to consider the former APHC chief's future. Although Geelani refused to withdraw his attack on Bhat for supporting the ceasefire, the Majlis, at the end of a three-day meetin g on August 29, chose neither to censure him nor to remove him from the APHC, where he serves as the Jamaat's representative.
Events in the Majlis-e-Shoura surprised more than a few observers. Only weeks earlier, Bhat, who has been one of the principal advocates of a ceasefire and a negotiated peace, appeared to have secured the organisation's unequivocal support. Bhat defeated Geelani's nominee, Ashraf Sehrai, in elections for the Amir's post held by the Jamaat's general house of representatives, the 90-member Majlis-e-Numaindgan. The outcome of the Majlis-e-Shoura, however, illustrates that Bhat is in no position to risk a s plit in the Jamaat, or to marginalise the hardliners decisively. Instead, something of a compromise between the two factions emerged, with Bhat accepting Sehrai as a deputy, and Geelani, who heads the Jamaat's political wing, taking on Ghulam Qadir Lone, a moderate, as his second-in-command. The feud within the organisation appears to reflect larger schisms within the Hizb itself, for Dar has been unable to gain endorsement for his initiative from several key field commanders.
Developments at the other end of the political spectrum are not dissimilar. Mainline Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists were stunned by the support their cadre gave to the controversial former Jan Sangh chief Balraj Madhok during his September 1 visi t to Jammu. Madhok charged Advani with "bringing shame to the nation" by engaging in a dialogue with the Hizbul Mujahideen. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Advani, he said, "should quit and hand over Jammu and Kashmir to the Army". The newly-form ed Jammu and Kashmir Nationalist Front, Madhok announced, would launch a campaign to sunder the state into three. Madhok shared a platform with a spectrum of Right-wing leaders in the State, notably the Ladakh Buddhist Association's Tsering Samphel. Samp hel has been at the cutting edge of a Buddhist-chauvinist agitation in Ladakh this summer, which has on at least one occasion almost provoked violence.
If the Hindu Right is under pressure in Jammu, so too are its Islamic counterparts in Kashmir. The APHC, for one, has found itself under collective assault from revanchist organisations like the Jammu Kashmir Islamic Front, threatening to execute securit y guards assigned to its leaders. The Hizb, for its part, has been forced to threaten to engage in a new wave of hostilities that is pan-Indian in character, a posture obviously designed to ward off pressure from Pakistan-based jehadi organisation s. Hizb commanders have also been seeking to make a communal issue of census operations, which are being undertaken in Jammu and Kashmir after two decades.
As the September 1 bombing which injured former State Minister Maulvi Iftekhar Husain Ansari illustrates, just weeks after the Hizb ceasefire, it is back to business in Jammu and Kashmir. While high-political plans for a resolution of Jammu and Kashmir's bloody war may seem conceptually attractive, their principal impact so far has been to deepen the conflict between religious communities. Through the State, peoples and politicians have begun to position themselves in the event of a partition, however f ar it might yet be in the future. Tragically, meaningful debate on autonomy, which could have propelled a real dialogue on the welter of democratic aspirations of the State's diverse communities, has been marginalised by the process of bringing about a d irect settlement with terrorist groups. Many had advertised the Hizb ceasefire as the beginning of a new time of peace. It may turn out, instead, to be just a false dawn.
CEO Farooq Kathwari has revitalized the company, while leading a campaign to bring peace to Kashmir
Grief, comfort, gratitude, patriotism. That was the language of most chief executives' messages in newspapers around the country after the violence of Sept. 11. But M. Farooq Kathwari, the head of furniture retailer Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. (ETH ), a Muslim who left Kashmir some 35 years ago and now an American citizen trying to bring peace to that troubled place, wrote of something else. Deep sadness, yes. But also of the need to "foster unity among people of different faiths." As community leaders have stated in the days since the Twin Towers fell, Kathwari says: "The terrorists win if the search for justice turns to vengeance."
Kathwari, 57, knows something of how grief and anger work on people. His eldest son was killed in Afghanistan in 1992: Imran, a 19-year-old college student born and raised in America, was drawn there by romantic notions of the fight against the Russians (and by that time, the regime they backed), says Kathwari. Imran went despite the family's opposition. He died in a mortar attack, in one of the last battles for the capital, Kabul. "My son is lying in rubble in Afghanistan," Kathwari says.
A death like that could make a parent bitter for life. And Kathwari was for a while. But eventually he decided to get involved, not in Afghanistan but in Kashmir, as a diplomat of sorts. At least 35,000 Kashmiris have died or disappeared since 1989, when their renewed call for more autonomy, if not independence, from India, sparked a rebellion that Pakistan supports. Kathwari, once a student activist in Kashmir, brought together a group of predominantly American politicians, academics, and former diplomats in 1996 to suggest ways to end the civil strife. Kathwari, talking publicly about his work there for the first time, says: "I wanted to try to save parents from the agony of losing a child. And Kashmir helps me maintain perspective."
What makes Kathwari's experience so interesting is the way in which it has influenced his leadership at Ethan Allen, that most traditional of American retail icons. He's as demanding as any CEO. But colleagues also talk about his sense of justice and humility. As Sandra Lamenza, vice-president and general manager of the retail division, puts it: "Ego is not tolerated. You can't throw power around."
Kathwari, who grew up in a privileged, politically active family, left Kashmir in 1965 to obtain an MBA at New York University. After a few years on Wall Street, he began importing handicrafts from Kashmir. In 1980, Kathwari sold his company to Ethan Allen, an early client, and five years later he was promoted to president.
Since then he has changed almost everything about Ethan Allen: the furniture, the design of its 300-plus stores, its relationship with dealers, and the senior management, almost all of whom retired between 1988 and 1990. Ethan Allen used to sell traditional furniture, some of which hadn't been updated in 40 years, in stores that even employees say looked like colonial museums. "Ethan Allen was a trusted, dusty brand in danger of going the way of the Oldsmobile," says Simon Williams, chairman of brand consultant Sterling Group in New York. Kathwari and his designers made over its Valley Forge look to suit modern tastes and they now launch new collections more frequently. They have also remodeled most stores and relocated half to prime retail space.
At the same time, Kathwari took on the independent dealers who sold most of Ethan Allen's furniture. Breaking with industry protocol, he told them to sell only the company's merchandise at one price to be set in the Danbury (Conn.) headquarters. He also required them all to buy the furniture at the same price; before, the bigger dealers received a discount. Several of them confronted Kathwari in 1986, saying: "Do you think you are Robin Hood? You're giving to smaller dealers at [our] expense." To Kathwari it was an issue of fairness, and that was that. Two dealers walked out.
A MESSAGE. Now the transformation is almost complete. To fend off a hostile bid in 1989, Kathwari led a $350 million buyout; that gave him a 10% stake in the company and more operational control. Kathwari took Ethan Allen public again in 1993. At most stores, sales have tripled since 1985, and the company's profit margins are the highest of any furniture manufacturer. But of course, no business is immune to the slowing economy and the likelihood of protracted military action. Profits for the fiscal year that ended on June 30 were $84 million, down 7% from a year ago. Sales were $904 million, up 5.6%. As late as June the stock price was holding up well, at about $38. Now it's trading around $30. To reduce costs, Kathwari closed three U.S. factories this year and he is moving some production to Southeast Asia. He still expects sales to grow 5% in 2001. Though that may be optimistic these days, the company does have a strong enough balance sheet to weather a recession.
Kathwari talks often about establishing "a moral precedent" at Ethan Allen. When Corey Whitely, vice-president of retail operations, won the company's Golden Kite achievement award in 2000, Kathwari said he should think of it as recognition that he fulfilled his responsibilities with modesty. And when the company bought a plant in Virginia ten months ago, he told Charlie Farfaglia, vice-president of human resources, to recognize the employees' service with the old company when determining benefits. Kathwari also speaks of religious tolerance, when speaking of it seems appropriate. At a Christmas dinner he hosted, he read from the Koran about the birth of Jesus. After Sept. 11, the staff agreed Ethan Allen should put a public message in a few newspapers. "They know of my loss. They know I believe injustice is a sin," he says. Kathwari wrote the note himself.
Kathwari is intimately involved, some would say overly, in running the company. That doesn't work to everyone's benefit. After years of operating without a chief financial officer--the company has a controller--Kathwari decided last year to hire William Beisswanger from Ernst & Young LLP. He left after nine months. Beisswanger would only say that "Farooq is very hands-on. I didn't think it was the right place for me." Kathwari has since hired someone else.
Any difficulties with the turnaround pale alongside Kathwari's efforts to bring peace to Kashmir. The Kashmir Study Group is an independent effort, initially welcomed by no one and still criticized by some as out of touch. But over the past five years, Kathwari has largely persuaded Indian and Pakistani officials that he is serious, fair, and worth their time. "He and his project are highly respected by both sides as well as the U.S. government," says a Bush Administration official.
The group's report, released in early 2000, offers a supple approach to sovereignty, giving Kashmiris (a majority of whom are Muslim) the right to rule themselves within India or Pakistan. That is a controversial notion among Indians who want to retain control, and some of them view Kathwari with suspicion. "They've asked the leaders to imagine a settlement that's fair to both. It's very helpful just to get people thinking about that," says Frank C. Wisner, a former ambassador to India who is now a director at Ethan Allen. Last year Kathwari met with Pakistan's ruler, President Pervez Musharraf, and Indian officials close to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee; he was one of many urging them to talk. The two met in the Indian city of Agra in July and are considering another summit. The violence continues: A car bomb exploded near the state legislature Oct. 1, killing at least 40 people. Now, though, there may be more pressure to bring peace to Kashmir, says Kathwari, because then "those fighting jihad there would lose an important base."
Kathwari insists that his work in Kashmir didn't distract him from Ethan Allen, and the board doesn't seem worried. "It helps give him a sense of value beyond the furniture business," says Edward H. Meyer, a director and head of Grey Global Group Inc., an advertising agency in New York. Who can argue with that?
What would be interesting would be to hold a refrendum in Jammu , Ladakh and the valley and ask each voter which state they would like to live in , if these states were carved out of the present Kashmir . Its almost certain that most of the Muslims of Doda and even the valley would vote to join Jammu , to stay in India proper and this would be a kind of indirect refrendum .. A divisive agenda
Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah's recent conclave with United States-based secessionist leader Farooq Kathwari is seen as part of a larger U.S.-sponsored covert dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir, in which the Vajpayee Government is complicit.
JOIN the dots on the graph charting the future of Jammu and Kashmir, and it is hard to miss the shape staring back from the page. On March 8, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and a group of his top Cabinet colleagues held a closed-door secret meeting with Farooq Kathwari, a U.S.-based secessionist leader. The meeting, held at the Secretariat in Jammu, appears to be just part of a larger U.S.-sponsored covert dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir. Indeed, there is growing evidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party-l ed coalition government in New Delhi is complicit in this dialogue, which could lead to a violent communal sundering of the State.
Kathwari heads the Kashmir Study Group (KSG), an influential New York-based think tank which has been advocating the creation of an independent state carved out of the Muslim-majority areas of Jammu and Kashmir. The owner of Ethan Allen, an upmarket furn iture concern which includes the White House among its clients, Kathwari's associates in the KSG have included influential Indian establishment figures, notably former Foreign Secretary S.K. Singh and retired Vice-Admiral N.K. Nair. Kathwari was blacklis ted by successive Indian governments and on one occasion was even denied permission to visit the country to meet a seriously ill relative. Shortly after the BJP-led coalition took power in 1998, however, he was granted a visa.
It is still unclear at whose initiative the visa was granted. But Kathwari arrived in New Delhi in March 1999, carrying a series of proposals for the creation of an independent Kashmiri state. Called Kashmir: A Way Forward, the proposals were the outcome of the KSG's deliberations. On this first visit, he met what one senior intelligence official describes as a "who's who of the BJP establishment". Kathwari also appears to have visited Jammu and Srinagar, staying at the home of a top National Con ference politician. Frontline has so far been unable to establish whether he met Abdullah on that occasion.
Public disclosure of Kathwari's proposals provoked a minor storm. Both S.K. Singh and N.K. Nair disassociated themselves from its recommendations. Nonetheless, Kathwari seemed encouraged enough to push ahead with a new version of Kashmir: A Way Forwar d. Last September, a fresh version of the document was finalised after, its preface records, receiving reactions from "government officials in India and Pakistan". The new document was even more disturbing than the first. At least one KSG member, the University of South Carolina's Robert Wirsing, refused even to participate in the discussions. But the BJP, it now appears, was not wholly unhappy with the direction Kathwari was proceeding in.
Kashmir: A Way Forward outlines five proposals for the creation of either one or two new states, which would together constitute what is described in somewhat opaque fashion as a "sovereign entity but one without an international personality". "Th e new entity," the KSG report says, "would have its own secular, democratic constitution, as well as its own citizenship, flag and a legislature which would legislate on all matters other than defence and foreign affairs... India and Pakistan would be re sponsible for the defence of the Kashmiri entity, which would itself maintain police and gendarme forces for internal law and order purposes. India and Pakistan would be expected to work out financial arrangements for the Kashmiri entity, which could inc lude a currency of its own."
Four of five possible Kashmiri entities the KSG discusses involve two separate states on either side of the Line of Control (LoC), and territorial exchanges between India and Pakistan. But the fifth Kashmiri entity outlined in Kashmir: A Way Forward - of a single state on the Indian side of the LoC - is the most interesting of the KSG proposals. Premised on the assumption that Pakistan would be unwilling to allow the creation of a new entity on its side of the LoC - although there is no discussio n of what will happen if India were to be similarly disinclined - the new state would come into being after a series of tehsil-level referendums. All the districts of the Kashmir Valley, the districts of Kargil and Doda, three northern tehsils of Rajouri and one tehsil of Udhampur, the KSG believes, would opt to join the new Kashmiri state.
Kashmir: A Way Forward attempts, somewhat desperately, to prove that its assumptions are not based on communal grounds. "All these areas," it argues, "are imbued with Kashmiriyat, the cultural traditions of the Vale of Kashmir, and/or interact ext ensively with Kashmiri-speaking people." But this assumption is patently spurious, for several of these areas also interact similarly with peoples who do not speak Kashmiri. There is no explanation, for example, as to why the linguistic, cultural and tra de links between the three northern Muslim-majority tehsils of Rajouri district and the three southern Hindu-majority tehsils are of any less significance than those they have with the Kashmir region.
Nor is it made clear what linguistic affiliation the tehsils of Karnah and Uri in Kashmir, where just 3.2 per cent and 3.1 per cent of the population were recorded as Kashmiri-speakers in the 1981 Census, the last carried out in Jammu and Kashmir, might have with the Valley. Indeed, these tehsils have recorded some of the highest voter turnouts in successive elections from 1996, suggesting that their residents have little sympathy for Kashmir Valley-centred secessionist politics. Similarly, while Ramban and Bhaderwah tehsils in Doda are not Kashmiri-speaking and principally trade with Jammu, the KSG proposals make the a priori assumption that they would vote to join the new state.
OFFICIALS in Jammu and Kashmir seemed uncertain of just what Kathwari and Abdullah discussed during their meeting. State Chief Secretary Ashok Jaitley told Frontline that the meeting had indeed been held, but said that he was unaware of just what was discussed. "What I can tell you is that the initiative for the meeting was not ours," he said, "and that the highest quarters were consulted before it was held." Others said Kathwari had requested the meeting to discuss a potential timber business in the State. Neither the Jammu and Kashmir Directorate of Public Relations, which handles media interaction with the Chief Minister, nor Abdullah's personal staff, responded to queries from Frontline.
Even leaving aside the minor point that following Supreme Court orders, felling forests is illegal in Jammu and Kashmir it seems implausible that the content of Kathwari's dialogue with Abdullah centred on raw material for Ethan Allen. The National Confe rence's proposals for Jammu and Kashmir's future have striking similarities with those that the KSG is touting. The controversial report of the Regional Autonomy Committee (RAC), which was tabled in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly last year (Frontline , July 30, 1999) and is in the process of being implemented, bears similarities with the KSG proposals. Muslim-majority Rajouri and Poonch are scheduled to be cut away from the Jammu region and recast as a new Pir Panjal province. The single districts of Buddhist-majority Leh and Muslim-majority Kargil too will be sundered from each other and become new provinces.
In some cases, the RAC Report and the KSG proposals mirror each other down to the smallest detail. For example, Kashmir: A Way Forward refers to the inclusion of a Gool-Gulabgarh tehsil in the new state. There is, in fact, no such tehsil. Gool and Gulabgarh were parts of the tehsil of Mahore, the sole Muslim-majority tehsil of Udhampur district, until 1999. Gool subsequently became a separate tehsil. But the proposal for Mahore's sundering from Udhampur and inclusion in the Chenab province was fi rst made in the RAC Report. According to the RAC plan, as in the KSG proposals, Mahore would form part of the Chenab province, while Udhampur would be incorporated in the Hindu-majority Jammu province.
Significantly, Abdullah's plans for the future of Jammu and Kashmir's relationship with India match the KSG's formulation of a quasi-sovereign state. The report of the State Autonomy Committee (SAC), which was released in March 1999 and is now under cons ideration by the Centre, would leave New Delhi with no powers other than the management of defence, external affairs and communications. Fundamental rights mentioned in the Constitution, for example, would no longer apply to Jammu and Kashmir if the SAC has its way. They will have to be substituted by a separate chapter on fundamental rights in the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, which now contains only Directive Principles. The Supreme Court's jurisdiction over Jammu and Kashmir will end and the State Election Commission will conduct polls in the State, not the Election Commission of India.
While the National Conference's demands for greater autonomy are in themselves not disturbing, the context in which they have been made and their character are. For one, the SAC proposals were pushed through without debate in the Assembly and a nation-wi de political debate on the issue, promised by Abdullah, never took place. Meaningful autonomy seems to be the last of the SAC's concerns. The report does not contain even one sentence about financial autonomy, essential to prevent the interference from New Delhi that the SAC set out to end. Even more intriguing is the fact that no BJP leader outside Jammu, despite the party's long opposition to State autonomy, has criticised the SAC report. Abdullah made clear at a press conference in Jammu that the in itiative for the report to be submitted to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs came from New Delhi, not the State.
JUST what, then, is going on in those corridors of power where policy on Jammu and Kashmir is framed? It is evident that many of the proposals floated by the KSG, and which have permeated the RAC and SAC reports, have some form of U.S. backing. Shortly a fter Prime Ministers Atal Behari Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif met in Lahore, Pakistan Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz called for a district-wise referendum in Jammu and Kashmir. It was a sharp departure from his country's historic position. Journalist Talat Hu ssain, writing in the Pakistani newspaper The Nation, reported that Niaz Naik and R.K. Mishra, the back-channel negotiators during the Kargil war, had discussed what was described as the 'Chenab Plan', a sundering of the State between the Muslim-m ajority areas to the north of the river and the Hindu-majority areas to its south.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has also been talking about what appears to be a U.S.-approved formula for "deliberate, incremental advances" towards a final settlement in Jammu and Kashmir. Bhutto advocated that "the two sections of Kashmi r should have open and porous borders" - a proposition remarkably similar to that advocated by the KSG. This should happen prior to a final period when "the parties commence discussion on a formal and final resolution to the Kashmir problem, based on the wishes of its people and the security concerns of both India and Pakistan". "Both sections," she wrote during the Kargil war, "would be demilitarised and patrolled by either an international peace-keeping force or a joint Indian-Pakistani peace-keeping force. Both legislative councils would continue to meet separately and on occasion jointly."
Political analysts in Jammu and Kashmir not taken in by the rhetoric of a new relationship between India and the U.S., and they are sadly few, have little doubt about the deal that is being brokered. "You only have to read Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to unde rstand that Hindu fundamentalists never wanted the Muslim-majority areas of Jammu and Kashmir to be part of Hindu India," says academic Balraj Puri. A deal where the Muslim-majority areas of the State get broad autonomy in return for the National Confere nce agreeing to greater integration for its Buddhist and Hindu-majority, he suggests, will allow both the National Conference and the BJP to proclaim victory to their respective chauvinist constituencies. Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Mohammad Y usuf Tarigami told Frontline that top BJP ideologue K.R. Malkani had, at a conference in February, told him that a division of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was, in the long term, inevitable - an idea many on the Hindu right have endorsed in the past.
Speaking to Frontline after news of the meeting of the two Farooqs appeared in The Hindu-Business Line, one top official described the event as "trivial", and Kathwari as "an irrelevant busybody". Its hard to believe that Abdullah, who has consistently opposed dialogue with the secessionist All Parties Hurriyat Conference or the leadership of terrorist groups, finds it acceptable to hold closed-door meetings with "irrelevant" secessionists unless they have the right connections. Some obser vers believe that U.S. President Bill Clinton's India visit could lead, in months to come, to the appointment of an official to oversee dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir. The official could be packaged as a facilitator of dialogue rather than a mediator. Wha t is clear is that dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir with the BJP as a participant is under way - and it is time the rest of the country was told about the contours of the communal deal that is being engineered.
MIM: The Freedom House study on Saudi publications in American mosques highlights the conflict of interests in having Farooq Kathwari as a board member - Kathwari has spoken and participated in conferences held by the Islamic Society of North America the foremost distributor of Saudi publications in the US. In addition, Kathwari received an award from the Islamic Center of Southern California whose Imam Muzzamil Siddiqui, was former ISNA president. the ICSC is also extremely active in distributing Saudi educational materials to Islamic Schools which are often called New Horizons, whch is the name of the ISNA publication.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Elyse Bauer, (202) 296-5101 ext. 136. or Michael Goldfarb, (212) 514-8040 ext. 12.
NEW REPORT ON SAUDI GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS
WASHINGTON, DC, January 28, 2005 -- Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom released today a new report exposing the dissemination of hate propaganda in America by the government of Saudi Arabia.
The 89-page report, "Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques," is based on a year-long study of over two hundred original documents, all disseminated, published or otherwise generated by the government of Saudi Arabia and collected from more than a dozen mosques in the United States.
The report is available on the Freedom House website at: http://freedomhouse.org/religion/.
The propagation of hate ideology by Saudi Arabia is known to be worldwide, but its occurrence within the United States has received scant attention until now. Within worldwide Sunni Islam, followers of Saudi Arabia's extremist Wahhabi ideology are a distinct minority, as is evident by the millions of Muslims who have chosen to make America their home and are upstanding, law-abiding citizens and neighbors.
The report concludes that the Saudi government propaganda examined reflects a "totalitarian ideology of hatred that can incite to violence," and the fact that it is "being mainstreamed within our borders through the efforts of a foreign government, namely Saudi Arabia, demands our urgent attention." The report finds: "Not only does the government of Saudi Arabia not have a right – under the First Amendment or any other legal document – to spread hate ideology within U.S. borders, it is committing a human rights violation by doing so."
Such publications that "advocate an ideology of hatred have no place in a nation founded on religious freedom and toleration," write James Woolsey, chairman of the board of Freedom House, in the foreword to the report.
Among the key findings of the report:
• Various Saudi government publications gathered for this study, most of which are in Arabic, assert that it is a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews and warn against imitating, befriending, or helping them in any way, or taking part in their festivities and celebrations;
• The documents promote contempt for the United States because it is ruled by legislated civil law rather than by totalitarian Wahhabi-style Islamic law. They condemn democracy as un-Islamic;
• The documents stress that when Muslims are in the lands of the unbelievers, they must behave as if on a mission behind enemy lines. Either they are there to acquire new knowledge and make money to be later employed in the jihad against the infidels, or they are there to proselytize the infidels until at least some convert to Islam. Any other reason for lingering among the unbelievers in their lands is illegitimate, and unless a Muslim leaves as quickly as possible, he or she is not a true Muslim and so too must be condemned. For example, a document in the collection for the "Immigrant Muslim" bears the words "Greetings from the Cultural Attache in Washington, D.C." of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, and is published by the government of Saudi Arabia. In an authoritative religious voice, it gives detailed instructions on how to "hate" the Christian and Jew: Never greet them first. Never congratulate the infidel on his holiday. Never imitate the infidel. Do not become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Do not wear a graduation gown because this imitates the infidel;
• One insidious aspect of the Saudi propaganda examined is its aim to replace traditional and moderate interpretations of Islam with extremist Wahhabism, the officially-established religion of Saudi Arabia. In these documents, other Muslims, especially those who advocate tolerance, are condemned as infidels. The opening fatwa in one Saudi embassy-distributed book, published by the Saudi Air Force, responds to a question about a Muslim preacher in a European mosque who taught that it is not right to condemn Jews and Christians as infidels. The Saudi state cleric's reply rebukes the Muslim cleric: "He who casts doubts about their infidelity leaves no doubt about his." Since, under Saudi law, "apostates" from Islam can be sentenced to death, this is an implied death threat against the tolerant Muslim imam, as well as an incitement to vigilante violence;
• Sufi and Shiite Muslims are viciously condemned;
• For a Muslim who fails to uphold the Saudi Wahhabi sect's sexual mores (i.e. through homosexual activity or heterosexual activity outside of marriage), the edicts published by the Saudi government's Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and found in American mosques advise, "it would be lawful for Muslims to spill his blood and to take his money;"
• Regarding those who convert out of Islam, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs explicitly asserts, they "should be killed;"
• Saudi textbooks and other publications in the collection, propagate a Nazi-like hatred for Jews, treat the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion as historical fact, and avow that the Muslim's duty is to eliminate the state of Israel;
• Regarding women, the Saudi publications instruct that they should be veiled, segregated from men and barred from certain employment and roles;
The report states: "While the government of Saudi Arabia claims to be ‘updating' or reforming its textbooks and study materials within the Kingdom, its publications propagating an ideology of hatred remain plentiful in some prominent American mosques and Islamic centers, and continue to be a principal resource available to students of Islam within the United States."
The research, translation and principle analysis of the materials for the report were carried out by both Muslims and non-Muslims who wish to remain anonymous for reasons of security. Some 90 percent of the publications are in Arabic; two independent translators reviewed each Arabic document. This project was undertaken after many Muslims requested the Center's help in exposing Saudi extremism in the hope of freeing their communities from ideological strangulation.
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Founded more than sixty years ago by Eleanor Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and other Americans concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy, Freedom House has been a vigorous proponent of democratic values and a steadfast opponent of dictatorship of the far left and far right. Its Center for Religious Freedom advocates that U.S. foreign policy defend those persecuted for their religion or beliefs around the world, and support the right to religious freedom for every individual.